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Review: Mario Gonzalez Jr./Zhou B. Art Center

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The MOS (Meeting of Styles) international graffiti event will erupt in Chicago September 14-16, where Mario Gonzalez Jr., one of its organizers, is sure to be covering one of the many walls with his colorful arabesques. But in the weeks leading up to it, Zore (as he is known in the graffiti community) is also having a solo exhibition at the Zhou B. Art Center. His gallery work is just as assertive and eye-catching, but it’s also too eye-pleasing to be temporary. These pieces are as decorative as gold-leafed, lacquered Japanese screens, though they seem to have been made with materials found at a home-improvement center. He paints and draws on a variety of unprimed supports: paper, canvas, plywood and steel and, though he still has a deft wrist with a can of spray paint, he brushes and draws as well, in perfect control of the paint as it drips, globs, stains or breathlessly snakes in bold lines across the surface. He still can put out the bold icons of self-assertion that claim his rightful place in the community of taggers. And his work is still more about flamboyant self-assertion than introspective doubt. But over the past two decades, he has probably seen too much abstract art not to be fascinated by games of energy and balance within the four edges of a rectangle, often using nothing more than varieties of black and white with the snap, crackle, and thrill of discovery found in early modernist art. Mario Gonzalez Jr. seems to be damn happy to be alive, which is not a feeling that accompanies most contemporary painting. (Chris Miller)

Through September 14 at Zhou B. Art Center, 1029 West 35th

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